How to care for your mental health during a quarantine

Quartz at Work reporter

Living under quarantine can have a profound impact on a person’s psyche.

At Quartz, we know this from personal experience now, but we also know we’re not alone. Nearly 800 readers around the world joined executive editor Heather Landy on April 2 for the third session in our Quartz at Work (from home) workshop series. The topic this week: minding mental health.

Here’s a recap of what we learned.

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How to care for your mental health during a quarantine

A s the number of coronavirus infections continues to rise, the likelihood more people will need to self-quarantine or self-isolate is becoming evident.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people self-quarantine if they are concerned they may become ill following possible exposure. Those who are actually sick with COVID-19, the new strain of coronavirus, should self-isolate, so as not to spread the disease to cohabitators. The recommended time period for both conditions is 14 days.

Claudia W. Allen is the director of the Family Stress Clinic and the director of behavioral science in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Virginia’s School of Medicine. She is also a licensed clinical psychologist.

“We’re all worrying about whether we have enough food, toilet paper and medications to stay comfortable in a quarantine, but one of the biggest challenges of quarantine will be to our mental health,” she said.

“While telecommuting initially sounds like an unplanned vacation, in reality, isolation, lack of schedule and not enough to do are a foolproof recipe for depression. Luckily, the scientific literature on wellness and mood informs us what will help us avoid depression (and thrive) if stuck at home,” she said.

To battle the possible dip in mood, whether in self-quarantine or self-isolation, Allen offers these suggestions.

Get Dressed

First, don’t give in to the immediate urge to sleep in and stay up late. Set your alarm for your usual time and stick with your morning routine. Shower, eat what you normally would, make the bed, etc. You can skip the work uniform and dress down, but do get dressed – don’t stay in pajamas.

claudia_allen_hs_inline_left.jpg

How to care for your mental health during a quarantine

If Telecommuting, Stick with Your Routine

Be proactive and lay out an intentional structure for your day. If you’re telecommuting, stick with your usual worktimes or something similar. If you’re not working, create a schedule of mealtimes, reading time, phone time, exercise, chores, etc. Write it down. Even if you have very few obligations, it will help you stay balanced to have different activities you regularly do at relatively set times. It’s ideal to have a mix of things you need to do (pay bills, chores, work, etc.) and things you just like to do. This approach to your day is actually an evidence-based treatment for depression called “behavioral activation” that will also help prevent depression.

Plan Out Your Week

Have a schedule for the week as well. Make weekends somewhat different, even if that means something simple like making a more elaborate breakfast or something more involved like embarking on a project (i.e., painting a room). This combination of structure and variation keeps people settled but stimulated – both important for emotional well-being.

Go Outside

If you’re not confined to the house, take daily walks or jogs, preferably in a leafy area. Exercise, sunlight and being around trees all benefit mood. If you’re stuck inside, try one of the many workouts that you can follow on the internet.

Quarantine might give you more time to work out than usual. If so, set SMART goals, meaning that they are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. Make it a challenge to increase your sit-ups, number of workouts a week, etc. Exercise has such a positive effect on mood it is actually a prescribed treatment for mild to moderate depression. Make it a priority on your daily schedule.

Be Intentional

Use any extra time very intentionally; don’t drift through the weeks. Pick one or two things you’ve wanted to learn about or how to do and teach yourself. Plan to come out of this quarantine with a new skill or hobby. Many famous artists and scientists credit the time they spent being sickly children stuck at home with developing their curiosity or love for a subject. Devote one hour of your daily schedule to work on this new skill. If possible, collect any needed materials for this activity ahead of time.

Beware of Too Much Social Media

Use social media wisely. No doubt, social media is your friend when isolated. But resist scrolling through Facebook and Instagram endlessly; that won’t really feed your need for connection, but has been shown in some studies to actually make people feel left out or “less than.” Instead, use social media to meaningfully connect. Plan weekly (or even daily) group video chats with friends, family, neighbors or colleagues. Social connection is one of the most important drivers of well-being.

Be a Helper

Helping others is a known mood-booster. Be aware of who in your circle might be particularly vulnerable during this time and check on them by phone or email.

Spread Out

Create some space between those cohabitating. People quarantined together run the risk of crowding each other and creating irritation. Normally you’re together some of the time, but separated at other times. Mimic this at home by intentionally planning “together time” (meals, watching movies) and “separate time” in separate rooms, if possible (working, reading, learning). Even if you’re quarantined in just one room, plan agreed times when you’re not interacting, as if you were not all in the same room.

Shift Your Mental Space

Finally, use principles of mindfulness to shift your mental stance from frustration about the situation to curiosity. Take on the mindset of an anthropologist or journalist observing a social experiment. Keep a journal (written, sketches, or video) of your experience during quarantine – what you did and how you felt day-by-day. Taking on this stance will give you a little distance, which can reduce distress, as well as keep you open to the positive or simply interesting things that may happen during this very unusual experience.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major effect on our lives. Many of us are facing challenges that can be stressful, overwhelming, and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Public health actions, such as social distancing, are necessary to reduce the spread of COVID-19, but they can make us feel isolated and lonely and can increase stress and anxiety. Learning to cope with stress in a healthy way will make you, the people you care about, and those around you become more resilient.

Stress can cause the following:

  • Feelings of fear, anger, sadness, worry, numbness, or frustration
  • Changes in appetite, energy, desires, and interests
  • Difficulty concentrating and making decisions
  • Difficulty sleeping or nightmares
  • Physical reactions, such as headaches, body pains, stomach problems, and skin rashes
  • Worsening of chronic health problems
  • Worsening of mental health conditions
  • Increased use of tobacco, alcohol, and other substances

It is natural to feel stress, anxiety, grief, and worry during the COVID-19 pandemic. Below are ways that you can help yourself, others, and your community manage stress.

Healthy Ways to Cope with Stress

  • Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including those on social media. It’s good to be informed, but hearing about the pandemic constantly can be upsetting. Consider limiting news to just a couple times a day and disconnecting from phone, tv, and computer screens for a while.
  • Take care of your body.
    • Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate external icon .
    • Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals.
    • Exercise regularly.
    • Get plenty of sleep.
    • Avoid excessive alcohol, tobacco, and substance use.
    • Continue with routine preventive measures (such as vaccinations, cancer screenings, etc.) as recommended by your healthcare provider.
    • Get vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine when available.
  • Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
  • Connect with others. Talk with people external icon you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
  • Connect with your community- or faith-based organizations. While social distancing measures are in place, try connecting online, through social media, or by phone or mail.

Helping Others Cope

Taking care of yourself can better equip you to take care of others. During times of social distancing, it is especially important to stay connected with your friends and family. Helping others cope with stress through phone calls or video chats can help you and your loved ones feel less lonely or isolated.

Mental Health and Crisis

Resources and Social Support Services

  • If you are struggling to cope, there are many ways to get help. Call your healthcare provider if stress gets in the way of your daily activities for several days in a row.
  • During times of extreme stress, people may have thoughts of suicide. Suicide is preventable and help is available. More about the risk of suicide, signs to watch for, and how to respond if you notice these signs in yourself or a friend or a loved one, can be found here.
  • Free and confidential crisis resources can also help you or a loved one connect with a skilled, trained counselor in your area.

If you are in crisis, get immediate help:

Strategies for maintaining your physical and mental health.

The COVID-19 pandemic is stressful. Fighting COVID-19 as a patient or a doctor is downright traumatic. Here are some strategies for keeping yourself physically and mentally healthy in quarantine so you can keep fighting the good fight.

1. Don’t overindulge in unhealthy self-soothing. Wine, candy, chips, soda. All are fine in moderation. When humans are under stress (including isolation) we go into self-soothing strategies. Self-soothing strategies are ways that we calm ourselves down when under stress. Many of us self-soothe with alcohol or junk food. Though alcohol or junk food may help your mental health in the short term, it will affect your physical health, and therefore your body’s resistance to infection. Limit drinking and consumption of sugary or processed foods.

2. Schedule time for healthy self-soothing. When working from home it can be hard to see the lines between work and downtime (in both directions). Make sure work time is used for work and downtime is kept sacred. Downtime is essential for self-soothing. Epsom salt baths, listening to music, doing yoga, exercise, and meditation are all healthy self-soothing options.

Relieving stress in healthy ways is key to ensuring your stress does not exceed your body’s ability to recover from it. This will allow stressors on your body to remain in the hormetic zone (the amount of stress that’s healthy rather than harmful).

3. Manage your environment. Designate an area to work if feasible. In a New York City apartment this can be near impossible, so ritualize the beginning and end of work. Play certain music only when you’re working, or wear “work clothes” while you’re doing work and change clothes when you are transitioning to downtime. You can change your environment with lighting, music, and clothing. Change your state by changing your surroundings. Be deliberate about creating a “working environment” and a “downtime environment.”

Though the CDC only recommends cleaning highly touched areas daily, implementing the following recommendation is another way to avoid contaminants from entering your home in the first place. Be advised that the process described in the next paragraph and the embedded link is considered by most health professionals to be “above and beyond” the requirements for staying safe from COVID, including the current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines. I wanted to share the advice however for at-risk populations like the elderly or immune-compromised people who may wish to take extra precautions.

Keep your groceries (and things that you take outside your home) in a specific area so as not to create unnecessary exposure within your home. Put scrubs or clothes worn outside directly into the hamper. Disinfect grocery packaging, wallet, etc. when possible. Keep shoes in a designated area, maybe in a bin with other materials that leave the home frequently.

4. Maintain your sleep routine. Whether a healthcare worker or a 9-5er who suddenly has very little structure, sleep is going to be essential in keeping you healthy in the face of COVID-19. Make sure you’re practicing good sleep hygiene, keeping your sleeping environment cool, dark, and quiet. Limit blue spectrum light before bed with special glasses or programs like Nightshift on Macs, iPhones and iPads, and f.lux on PCs and smartphones.

5. Get sun. Vitamin D is important in the immune response. Getting sun will increase your vitamin D reserves. Opening shades and windows, sitting in sunny areas of your apartment, and even getting outside when social distancing is possible (maintaining 6+ feet between yourself and others).

6. Get exercise. Even if it’s raining or too crowded outside to practice social distancing, exercise in your apartment. New York City apartments are small, but there are workouts you can do in any size apartment. Wall push-ups, squats, guard circles, Supermans, and etc. are effective exercises with limited space. Switch between upper and lower body exercises to get your heart pumping and add a cardio component.

7. Enjoy your in-home “hydrotherapy machine.” Use your shower or bath for the therapeutic and toxin-flushing impact it can have.

Hot showers/baths ease muscle tension relieving stress. Steam from hot showers hydrates the nasal passageways making you more COVID-resistant.

Cold showers/baths have a plethora of benefits. Most relevant to COVID-19 resistance, cold showers/baths may lessen the intensity of illness symptoms and alleviate depression caused by social isolation.

8. Reach out for emotional support. Schedule virtual happy hours, brunches, and hangouts with friends. Schedule a virtual therapy session if isolation is beginning to wear on you.

Stay healthy out there. Not only for yourself, but for your neighbors and loved ones.

Adams, J. S., Liu, P. T., Chun, R., Modlin, R. L., & Hewison, M. (2007). Vitamin D in defense of the human immune response. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1117(1), 94-105.

Chovatiya, R., & Medzhitov, R. (2014). Stress, inflammation, and defense of homeostasis. Molecular cell, 54(2), 281-288.

Coussens, L. M., & Werb, Z. (2002). Inflammation and cancer. Nature, 420(6917), 860-867.

Hassan, S. Z., Waqas, M., Yaqub, D., & Asad, D. (2016). Hydrotherapy: An Efficient and Cost-Effective Treatment for Depression. International Journal Of Community Medicine And Public Health, 4(1), 274.

Nunes, R. F. H., Duffield, R., Nakamura, F. Y., Bezerra, E. D. S., Sakugawa, R. L., Loturco, I., . & Guglielmo, L. G. A. (2019). Recovery following Rugby Union matches: effects of cold water immersion on markers of fatigue and damage. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, 44(5), 546-556.

Parsons, P. A. (2001). The hormetic zone: An ecological and evolutionary perspective based upon habitat characteristics and fitness selection. The Quarterly review of biology, 76(4), 459-467.

Shevchuk, N. A. (2008). Adapted cold shower as a potential treatment for depression. Medical hypotheses, 70(5), 995-1001.

How to care for your mental health during a quarantine

There is currently an explosion of information, comments and opinions on COVID-19 on the internet and social media. We believe that on serious topics in general, and on public health matters in particular, it is essential that you rely on facts and seek credible, expert information. Our mission at AD MediLink remains to bring you the best possible information and advice, so you can make the best choices for you and your family.

Starting November 13th, Hong Kong is imposing a mandatory 14-day quarantine in a hotel for everyone arriving from countries other than China.

On top of having a rather stressful journey , undergoing a COVID-19 test at arrival and experiencing long wait times, travellers may find the prospect of a 2-week quarantine anxiety inducing.

Staying indoors in a small hotel room for 14 days, away from relatives and friends, can be mentally challenging and we at AD MediLink are sharing some practical tips to help you mentally cope with your quarantine.

DISCOVER OUR TOP COVID-19 READS

#1. Have a Routine

Two weeks without stepping outside and socializing can mean that everyday feels the same. A routine can change your whole experience and be very helpful.

Try waking up around the same time each day, get dressed and eat breakfast as you would normally do. Take a proper lunch and dinner and switch off your work computer at a set time at the end of the day.

If you find yourself in quarantine with children, time management is essential: develop a schedule that works for everyone.

#2. Move Your Body

With added stress and not moving as much as you normally would, the endorphins (the “feel good” hormones) released when you exercise will make a significant change in your day.

There is no need to be hard on yourself, you can make it fun! Try to commit to exercising everyday: the internet is full of amazing workouts for all levels or you can simply choose to have a dance party in your hotel room.

If you don’t have time for a full workout, you can also add a set of body weight squats and sit ups every time you go to the bathroom or have some coffee or tea.

#3. Connect Virtually

Take advantage of the technology you have at your fingertips (Facetime, Skype, Whatsapp, WeChat, IG, Messenger) to check in regularly with family and friends and avoid social isolation.

Family and friends can drop off food at your hotel lobby and deliver items to entertain you such as books, magazines, games, etc.

Hong Kong also has a great community of people sharing their experience during quarantine: HK Quarantine Facebook Support Group .

#4. Stay Positive and Slow Down

Try to reframe the way you see things. For instance, try to say “I get to do this” instead of “I have to do this” or “Not doing this allows me to do / feel / be” instead of “I can’t do this”.

Use these 14 days as a time to slow down and reflect on what really matters. If you’re quarantining with your family, it’s a great opportunity to spend more quality time with them and less time dealing with life’s busy day-to-day hustle and bustle.

You could also take advantage of this time to take up a new hobby or try something new.

#5. Get Some Sunlight

If your hotel room has nice sunlight or if you are lucky enough to have a balcony, sit by the window and relax.

The morning light helps restart your circadian rhythm, which sets you up for the day and helps improve the quality of your sleep, reducing anxiety and improving wellbeing.

Plus, you’ll get some much needed vitamin D !

Looking for health insurance? For expert advice and top-notch service, contact AD MediLink now at [email protected], call +852 2606 2668 or visit here to receive a free quote. An advisor uniquely trained on the Hong Kong healthcare system will be in touch to answer all your questions about health insurance and healthcare.

This article was independently written by AD MediLink and is not sponsored. It is informative only and not intended to be a substitute for professional advice and should never be relied upon for specific advice.

Talk to a health insurance expert

We make insurance simple and human

We are AD MediLink, Hong Kong’s health & employee wellbeing experts. Our only business is to make sure you have the right health coverage. All of our advisors are fully trained on Hong Kong’s healthcare system and health insurance options. In fact, we’ve built an extensive network of medical providers, which gives us unrivalled insights and knowledge.

How to Keep Mentally Healthy During a Quarantine
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From VOA Learning English, this is the Health & Lifestyle Report.

Several governments around the world have requested or ordered their citizens to quarantine themselves: to stay at home to avoid contact with others.

Quarantines help slow the spread of diseases like COVID-19. It first appeared in China in late December and quickly became a worldwide health emergency.

Quarantines, however, can cause health problems themselves. People are at greater risk of anxiety and depression as a result of the isolation caused by quarantines.

So, health experts around the world are offering advice to help deal with the undesirable effects of quarantines on mental health.

Psychologist Claudia W. Allen is among them. She directs the behavioral science department at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. She leads the Family Stress Clinic there as well.

Keep your usual routine

Allen says continuing with normal routines as much as possible will help you stay healthy during quarantines. For example, she says people should continue to wake up and get dressed at their usual time. She says with some people staying in pajamas all day could lead to feelings of being unproductive or without purpose.

Make a plan

She also advises people to make plans. Write a list of activities and times for carrying them out. These activities might include cleaning your home, paying bills, making calls and preparing meals. Health experts also suggest eating your meals at your usual times.

Don’t forget “self-care” activities

Allen says everyone should include “self-care” activities during quarantine, such as exercise, reading or playing musical instruments. Getting exercise is important. Even if you must stay indoors, make sure to move your body. Maybe seek some online exercise classes.

Keeping a list will help you balance the things you have to do and the things you want to do. Allen also suggests using a quarantine to develop a new skill or to learn about something.

How to care for your mental health during a quarantine

Go outside

Like most health experts, Allen also advises people to make sure to spend time outdoors. Being in nature can help to ease boredom and other tensions of quarantine.

So, take a walk. Work in the yard if you have one. Start a garden. Explore some woods or wild areas. Get sunshine on your face. Wash your car or bicycle.

Use social media wisely

Social media does connect us. But too much of it might cause harm.

Psychologist Claudia Allen says some studies show that social media can make some people feel left out or “less than.” She suggests using it wisely. One way is to meet with friends, family, neighbors and others over video messaging services.

Find ways to help

Allen says helping others is another way to lift your spirit during quarantine. This could be as simple as calling someone who is alone or greeting a neighbor from your window.

You could also provide a service online. For example, if you are a teacher, you could offer online homework help to friends who must now home-school their children.

And, keep a check on your own feelings. If you are experiencing difficulty from the effects of quarantine, contact a health care provider, a community organization or an emergency hotline number.

And that’s the Health & Lifestyle report.

I’m Mario Ritter, Jr.

If you are under quarantine, let us know how you are coping. How are you keeping your mental health strong?

Anna Matteo wrote this story for VOA Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has brought the whole world to a halt as almost all the countries are struggling to maintain their daily routine by quarantining themselves. Experts warn this prolonged isolation may trigger or worsen mental health problems.

How to care for your mental health during a quarantine

Now that most countries are under lockdown to fight the pandemic, there is one section of people who are struggling with the lack of freedom, social activities, fresh air and exercise, making them bored and lonely. This can have an impact on people’s mental well-being, which should not be overlooked.

How to care for your mental health during a quarantine

What Is Quarantine?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines quarantine as the separation and restriction of the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick.

How to care for your mental health during a quarantine

How Quarantine Affects Mental Health?

There is a lot of uncertainty and stress lingering during the pandemic. Thinking about how to spend your time during your quarantine days can take a serious toll on your mental health. Quarantine has an impact on three important elements of mental health – emotional well-being, psychological well-being and social well-being [1].

The fact that quarantine has left many people being confined to their homes has led to an increase in several health risks. These include depressive symptoms, impaired cognitive function, poor sleep, poor heart health and low immunity.

Even though quarantine is temporary, brief periods of loneliness and isolation can have harmful consequences on your mental well-being.

A study published in the journal The Lancet showed that people who were in quarantine reported psychological symptoms, which includes depression, stress, low mood, insomnia, irritability, emotional disturbance, anger, post-traumatic stress symptoms and emotional exhaustion [2].

The psychological symptoms were triggered due to longer quarantine duration, inadequate information, inadequate supplies, boredom, frustration, infection fears, stigma and financial loss.

Another study examined the psychological impact of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak that occurred in 2003. About 10 per cent of the people experienced post-traumatic stress symptoms (PTS) [3].

Long-term effects of quarantine were also seen three years after the SARS outbreak [2].

The psychological symptoms can be problematic only for people with pre-existing mental health problems.

Mental Health Effects Of Quarantine In Children

A study published in the journal The Lancet showed that children who were quarantined or isolated during pandemic diseases were more likely to develop grief, acute stress disorder and adjustment disorder. 30 per cent of the children who were quarantined or isolated developed post-traumatic stress disorder [4].

These psychological effects were seen in children who were quarantined due to close contact with infected COVID-19 individuals. Children who were quarantined at home with their parents or relatives had a lesser effect as compared to children who are separated from their caregivers and quarantined in local hospitals.

How to care for your mental health during a quarantine

What Governments Can Do To Mitigate The Effects Of Quarantine?

Some governments have come forward to address mental health concerns. Governments should be able to communicate quarantine measures effectively to the public while supplying essential supplies.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has listed down some ways to handle mental health problems.

Ways to handle social isolation

  • Maintain a regular schedule
  • Keep yourself active throughout the day
  • Distract yourself from negative emotions by listening to music, reading, painting, gardening or watching an entertainment show.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Elderly people may feel lost and confused. Help them out by listening to them.
  • Keep your children busy so that they don’t feel bored and lonely.

Ways to handle emotional problems

If you experience anxiety, practice deep-breathing for a few minutes.

  • Try and distance yourself from anxious thoughts by thinking something calm to slow down your mind.
  • If you feel angry and irritated, calm down your mind by counting backwards from 10 to 1.
  • Communicate with friends and family if you are feeling sad or lonely.
  • If you are feeling afraid, deal with it by asking yourself: What is under my control? Am I unnecessarily worrying about the worst thing that can happen? When I have been stressed in the past, how have I managed? What are the things I can do to help myself and be positive?
  • If the above problems persist, consult a mental health professional immediately.

How to care for your mental health during a quarantine

What Can You Do To Mitigate The Effects Of Quarantine?

Quarantine is better tolerated when people get accurate information about the nature of the disease and when people understand the role of quarantine to fight a pandemic.

Here are some ways to do so as suggested by The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare:

  • Believe in reliable sources as they make you less fearful.
  • Avoid watching sensational news or social media posts that carry wrong or fake information.
  • Do not keep discussing all the time about who got sick and how.
  • Practice hand and respiratory hygiene.
  • Avoid close contact with others.
  • Avoid tobacco, alcohol and other drugs as it can worsen your mental health.
  • Do not shun or judge people with COVID-19 infection.
  • Do not panic if you happen to get infected with coronavirus. Remember most people get recovered.
  • Recognise mental health problems in others by seeing the changes in sleep patterns, difficulty in concentrating, worsening of health problems and increased use of alcohol, drugs or tobacco.

To Conclude.

Being quarantined at home with family members provides an opportunity for families to come together and strengthen their bonds. For children, it can be a great time as they can spend ample quality time with their parents.

On the other hand, adolescents may be less enthusiastic and excited and they may feel bored. So, the best way to cope with mental health problems is by engaging in activities, thinking positive and staying connected with others.

How to Keep Mentally Healthy During a Quarantine
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From VOA Learning English, this is the Health & Lifestyle Report.

Several governments around the world have requested or ordered their citizens to quarantine themselves: to stay at home to avoid contact with others.

Quarantines help slow the spread of diseases like COVID-19. It first appeared in China in late December and quickly became a worldwide health emergency.

Quarantines, however, can cause health problems themselves. People are at greater risk of anxiety and depression as a result of the isolation caused by quarantines.

So, health experts around the world are offering advice to help deal with the undesirable effects of quarantines on mental health.

Psychologist Claudia W. Allen is among them. She directs the behavioral science department at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. She leads the Family Stress Clinic there as well.

Keep your usual routine

Allen says continuing with normal routines as much as possible will help you stay healthy during quarantines. For example, she says people should continue to wake up and get dressed at their usual time. She says with some people staying in pajamas all day could lead to feelings of being unproductive or without purpose.

Make a plan

She also advises people to make plans. Write a list of activities and times for carrying them out. These activities might include cleaning your home, paying bills, making calls and preparing meals. Health experts also suggest eating your meals at your usual times.

Don’t forget “self-care” activities

Allen says everyone should include “self-care” activities during quarantine, such as exercise, reading or playing musical instruments. Getting exercise is important. Even if you must stay indoors, make sure to move your body. Maybe seek some online exercise classes.

Keeping a list will help you balance the things you have to do and the things you want to do. Allen also suggests using a quarantine to develop a new skill or to learn about something.

How to care for your mental health during a quarantine

Go outside

Like most health experts, Allen also advises people to make sure to spend time outdoors. Being in nature can help to ease boredom and other tensions of quarantine.

So, take a walk. Work in the yard if you have one. Start a garden. Explore some woods or wild areas. Get sunshine on your face. Wash your car or bicycle.

Use social media wisely

Social media does connect us. But too much of it might cause harm.

Psychologist Claudia Allen says some studies show that social media can make some people feel left out or “less than.” She suggests using it wisely. One way is to meet with friends, family, neighbors and others over video messaging services.

Find ways to help

Allen says helping others is another way to lift your spirit during quarantine. This could be as simple as calling someone who is alone or greeting a neighbor from your window.

You could also provide a service online. For example, if you are a teacher, you could offer online homework help to friends who must now home-school their children.

And, keep a check on your own feelings. If you are experiencing difficulty from the effects of quarantine, contact a health care provider, a community organization or an emergency hotline number.

And that’s the Health & Lifestyle report.

I’m Mario Ritter, Jr.

If you are under quarantine, let us know how you are coping. How are you keeping your mental health strong?

Anna Matteo wrote this story for VOA Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.